11 Decorating Secrets The Italians Know (That You Don’t)
There's no denying that Italy leads the charge when it comes to style. Armani, Versace, Prada—all of these fashion heavyweights reign from this Mediterranean mecca. Likewise, Italy has produced a long list of interior icons, from Gio Ponti's unmistakable furniture designs to Dimore Studios' jewel-toned interiors.
If you've been lucky enough to find yourself within one of Rome's remarkable palazzos or an authentic Tuscan villa, you'll have no doubt been left with an enduring feeling of genuine passion and a rich history. In an attempt to replicate what makes Italian interiors so great, we've collected a list of decorating secrets from the Italians to steal for yourself.
1. Pattern Play
Look closely at your Italian inspiration images and you'll notice that there is no fear when it comes to experimenting with (and layering) patterns. You shouldn't be fearful either, because the use of pattern can create depth and interest within a room. An easy way to incorporate this at home is by switching out a generic white tile for a decorative mosaic on your bathroom floor or kitchen splashback.
2. Mixing Materials
When you think of materials associated with an Italian interior, it's easy to imagine an extravagant amount of Carrara marble. To leave your home looking like less of a hotel foyer and more of a Venetian villa, it's best to combine a few materials for a layered, lived-in look. Italian terrazzo tiles are trending for good reason—they're playful and tread the line between modern and heritage.
Adding sleek, contemporary touches within the original bones of a home is quintessentially Italian. There's no point competing with a centuries-old fresco (you'll lose), so offsetting a heritage feature with a modern piece of furniture is an easy way to create a statement. While you may not be in Italy, or in a home that dates back quite as far, simply selecting a new pendant to accompany your ornate ceiling rose is a great start.
Ever wonder how the Italian homes on Pinterest look like they've been curated over generations? The devil is in the details. From the ornate corners of a gilded mirror to a Murano glass vase that complements the tones in a velvet armchair, Italians have a sharp eye. Achieve this at home by only selecting pieces that add value to your design. Avoid unnecessary purchases and always refer to your concept and how everything in your space relates to one another.
5. Old Is New
Much like fashion, interior trends come in cycles, borrowing from the past and changing to fit our modern lives. Even the most current Italian interiors refer to designs and styles of bygone generations. Many of the silky, floral patterns we currently see in showrooms adorning cushions and furniture would fit in just as well in Ancient Rome. Keep an eye out for a pattern, colour or shape that is distinctly Italian and work it into your scheme.
Dating back to the Renaissance period, Italian maiolica describes hand-painted ceramics that feature earthy umber tones contrasted with pops of bright blue and green. Designs range from portraits to fruit to even mythical characters, with exquisite handmade detail that makes them a perfect addition to an Italian-inspired interior.
Italian interiors are notoriously dramatic. They're rich with history, colour, and are not afraid of playing with scale. You might find a miniature oil painting sitting beside a tall table lamp for an interesting vignette that captures your eye. At home, bring in a lofty olive tree in a woven basket to really ramp up the drama.
Tailor your interior by customising pieces you already own. Italian decorating isn't about the newest thing on the market; it's much more personalised than that. If you've been holding on to a piece of furniture waiting for inspiration to strike, now's the time to break out the tools. By selecting a new paint colour or fabric to repurpose your piece, you'll own something truly unique.
9. Statement Lighting
A common theme starts to emerge while performing an Italian decorating deep dive—statement lighting. Eye-catching, unconventional and spectacular; Italians prioritise lighting as decor. Floor, table and wall lights are a beautiful way to capture a certain ambience in a room, something the Italians are experts at.
10. Show It Off
An Italian home is a place to present personal mementos and keepsakes. So often, concerned with tidiness, we package these important parts of our lives up and store them away. A way to combat this is by opting for open shelving—it'll give you a chance to show off a favourite collection or a prized photograph.
The terracotta-clad walls of Le Sirenuse Hotel in Positano should give you an indication of where we're going. Warm earth tones of sienna and umber feature heavily throughout Italy, giving it an unmistakable aesthetic that we all love. From rust bed linen (we've got you covered) to brass mirrors, embrace a warm palette like the Italians.
Liked this? Read the 11 Decorating Secrets the French Know (That You Don’t)